Ermida da Nosa Señora da Lanzada

Most mornings I take Alqo out for a walk before breakfast. In the last week, our walk has become significantly more beautiful, swapping a brisk walk in urban Südstadt to the meadows of Villanueva and now the sea and its jagged, irregular rocky coastline. A few hundred meters away from our place is a small isthmus. The wind has been strong since we arrived to Sanxenxo, so we’d only make it halfway out, to an small meadow where RVs and campers park at night to enjoy the sunsets. But this morning the wind was calm. On this tiny isthmus sits a chapel, the ruins of an old tower, and a pre-Roman settlement.

The Romanesque chapel of Our Lady of Lanzada is a simple affair in juxtaposition with its surroundings. It was built in the 12-century from the ruins of another older chapel, possibly from the time of the tower. Like many older Christian sites, the chapel sits next to something very un-Christian, as if to ward away the pagan gods and worshippers with the Cross.

A castro, a Bronze Age pre-Roman fortified settlement with some remainder of the state walls still visible and preserved, was here long before. And like so many others places, the old rituals mixed with the new and at least tolerable to the Church.

There is a fertility ritual in August on A Lanzada beach called the Bath of the Nine Waves, where women come to the beach to bathe, then sweep the chapel as an offering to the Virgin of Lanzada to cure their infertility.

History is everywhere, if we only find the time to look. Sometimes, the past doesn’t leave artifacts or sites to be toured and admired, only remaining in the legends or historical writings of strangers who came before, closer to the source of time and the people who gave them meaning. But Spain has it all. I think that is why the country is so striking for guiris, there are so many layers of history that fold over each other and onto the present.

A Granxa Galega of Our Own

Three months in California, three in Spain, four in Germany, and back to Spain again. It’s not so much the physical packing and moving that is a grind but the lack of mental finality when we reach a destination. The time when we seem sure that this is for the long haul.

But it’s coming to an end now. Since meeting Patricia in Mauritania and visiting her family in Galicia one summer, I’ve harbored a total fascination with the region. It’s part of Spain. But not the one most Americans think of; siestas, Don Quixote, the fabled historical cities of Andalusia, or the odious bullfighting corridas.

Galicia is something else. Full of chestnut, oak, eucalyptus, and pine trees while fjord-like rías break up the coastline in such a way legend says they are the imprints of God’s fingers after having created the world and rested his hand on Galicia. An old kingdom of Celtic people eventually gave way to Roman retired generals and their progeny and produced the mother language of Galician-Portuguese.

Both of us desire a low-carbon lifestyle in a rural area. Cheap property prices, hundreds of depopulated and abandoned villages, and decent climate in this unpredictable time make Galicia a fertile zone for our generation heading back to the villages. Traditional employment opportunities have been in decline since the financial crisis all over Spain.

But we can combine working remotely, planting and growing our own food, raising animals, harvesting rainwater, renting out an extra room on Airbnb, and having space for family and friends to visit to build the life and community we want to be a part of. It aligns with own politics and thoughts on how to raise a family on a warming planet. Galicia is that place.

Yesterday, we arrived in O Grove, our temporary home base to start our search for a terreno of our own. It might take a while. Since we have our van, we can take short weekend trips to the interior and see what’s available. Finally, we’re thinking long-term.